How to Better Use Social Media For Business

Each of these networks has its own special strengths and purposes. Choose the ones that are right for you and fit how much time you have.

As in life, it is better to be positive than negative. Be full of generosity when you see things that you like.

Facebook

Still the gorilla of social media, Facebook has a considerable user base globally. That may be the understatement of the century. According to an Evan Osnos article in The New Yorker, the user base is not only unprecedented in the history of American enterprise, but the 2.2 billion people who log in at least once a month is equivalent in size to Christianity. The article also claims that its precision advertising model, “earns Facebook for ad revenue in a year than all American newspapers combined.”

In Australia, a whopping proportion of us are active users. When you cut out the very young and the very old, you can appreciate the numbers. If there is one place you are going to be, it should be Facebook, no matter what kind of business you are in.

Facebook TIPS:

  • The more interactions your post gets, the more people will see it
  • Use Facebook Insights to see who is engaging and what posts are popular (or not)
  • If you have images online to share, link to the URL (except for video)
  • Interact with other pages
  • Upload video here natively. Facebook competes with Google, which owns YouTube

Anti-Facebook?

If you dislike Facebook, for whatever reason, you might be interested in Minds.

Minds is a social network that currently has 200,000 monthly users and is growing fast. It boasts an easy-to-use interface and regular engagement tools. It allows users to earn ‘tokens’ for their time on site and engagement.

Twitter

Twitter is used by journalists everywhere, bloggers, opinion leaders, politicians, et al. It is perfect for making quick connections and finding people with specific interests. Permissions, opt-outs, and the SPAM and CANSPAM and various national email legislation don’t apply, which makes it very easy and fast to form new contacts. Also effective as a customer service tool or to announce important breaking events such as service interruptions that will affect people.

Twitter Tips:

  • Twitter is excellent as a Search tool (you don’t even need to post). You can find events and popular #hashtags for your industry
  • By all means, piggyback off national and State event/awareness days. They have well-publicised event #hashtags for relevant conversations you can segue into
  • Try to get noticed/retweeted by the key influencers in your area
  • Repeat your tweets 2 or 3 times, spreading them a few hours apart
  • Add a few images for each tweet

Google+ No More

Well, Google Plus would have been my next recommendation. But Google killed it off this September 2018 after a large data breach with its API.

Instagram

These are more personal and visual accounts and about sharing slices of life. For a business, it’s best to have a personal angle by enlisting someone to make the updates based on their experiences at work (staff/CEO/whoever). Lufthansa, for example, uses pilot photos of places through the cockpit window.

Instagram Tips:

  • Remember, companies don’t Instagram, people Instagram.
  • Use 5 to 10-word captions for images
  • Use hashtags
  • Look at what’s popular

LinkedIn

This is the network for the highest quality content. Allows you to position yourself for competence and expertise.

LinkedIn Tips:

  • Posts can be 500 to 1,000 words
  • Integrate Slideshare for your presentations
  • Integrate issuu for your reports and booklets
  • Customise the ‘connection’ request
  • Get staff to share them on their profiles so they show up to a proper audience size.
  • Participate in Groups (if you can find a relevant group to you).

Pinterest

This is a very aesthetic network.

Pinterest Tips:

  • Pin professional photos.
  • No hashtags

Integrate Blogging and Social Media

Almost everyone seems to be doing this now, but this is the recipe I think works best.

  1. After writing your post, get a quality image from a stock site like https://www.pexels.com/pexels that is royalty free.
  2. Have social share buttons (to everything) on every blog post.
  3. Send multiple Tweets (at least 3) linking to your article.
  4. Add a photo and link to your Facebook Page.
  5. If it is super newsworthy, submit a version to a media release distribution agency like MediaNet.
  6. Publish on Medium through ‘Import Story’.
  7. Create a 500 words synopsis and publish on LinkedIn and Google+.
  8. Turn your bullet point articles into slideshows with Slideshare.
  9. Turn your SlideShare presentations into videos for YouTube.
  10. Email your list a heads-up with the link.
  11. If you still have time, do some Guest Blogging for other sites.

Summary

I hope that gives you a great toolkit. Remember, you have limited time and resources, so pick what you can achieve and schedule in some time each week for your social media.

Photo by picjumbo.com from Pexels

The Brand Identity Prism

“Having an identity means being your true self, driven by a personal goal that is both different from others and resistant to change.” Jean-Noel Kapferer

There are many models and frameworks for branding. Unilever created their own patented “Brand Key”, Proctor and Gamble developed the “Brand Asset Valuator” to assess the value of a brand. Any of these models might be useful, but we think the most useful of all for the small professional services business is The Brand Identity Prism, created by Jean-Noel Kapferer in 2008.

How to Use the Brand Identity Prism

The brand prism consists of six facets, some are under the control of you, the company, others are on the receiving side of your clients and customers. This is what it looks like.

brand identity prism

On the right-hand side, we have the internalised facets. These are things below the surface of visibility but are within your organisation’s control.

The goal in developing the prism for your business is to add three or four (no more than four) words to each facet. No words should be used more than once.

Each word you choose should be as strong and clear as possible. The hallmark of good identity prisms is the strength of the words they use. No wishy-washy, half-baked sentiments will do. It requires conviction.

Here is a brief outline of each facet. You don’t need to do anything yet.

Personality

This facet has been defined by the pioneer of branding, David Aaker, as “the set of human characteristics associated with a brand”.

In other words, if the brand were a human being, what personality would they have? This doesn’t necessarily mean our brand’s personality should be exactly the same as yours. Some of our clients, after all, may be similar to us but that doesn’t mean they want a relationship with a brand that is just like them. As professional service providers, this relationship is and will be key to our business success.

Culture

The brand’s Culture includes the workplace, staff relationships, morale, corporate values and ideals. In fact, if you are a nonprofit, I would use Values as the section name and think about  culture in those terms.

Self-Image

This is your clients’ view of themselves and is the result of our research, whether that be observation, studies, your own insights, interview and so on. This is where we get under the skin of our targeted client and identify their lifestyles, frustrations, and aspirations. This is our target market from a psychologist’s perspective, not just a demographer’s. It’s not just some checklist of how old they are, where they live and what level of education they have received, it is what they think, what they want, what they feel, what they dream of.

Reflection

This is how we take these insights of Self-Image and reflect them back to our target market so they can relate to our brand. In fact, we not only have to reflect our client’s self-image, we need to reflect their Ideal Self-Image, being who they would like to be.

Relationship

This facet describes the way you conduct your contact with your client. What are the contact points. Here, it is useful to do an ‘Experience Audit’ from a client’s point of view. We want our clients to feel a certain way about us and our brand, this is where we design means to achieve this.

Physique

Finally, we get to the physical facet. Funnily enough, this is where most people start their brand creation and where they finish! This includes all the physical elements that represent your brand. We can’t develop the physical dimension before we understand its core substance. These things are the opportunity you have to use signs, symbols, colours, shape, texture, type, even music or sound to create brand recognition and convey your brand essence.  We will also include staff uniforms, the servicescape and furniture in this category.

We believe this should be done last when all the other facets of the business and the service design have been thought through. The Physique is the seal of authenticity.

Logo Design

A lot of people think a logo is a brand. It’s not. A brand is a collection of perception about your business and the products and services it offers, how it makes people feel, and the solutions you provide.

The logo is something you see, and if it is recognised, then it unlocks those perceptions (for better or worse).

Designing your logo is your opportunity to use the power of symbols to communicate your vision and your positioning.

The designer’s job, or your job if you do it yourself, is to take the essence of your Vision and what is unique about you, and distil it into it’s purest and simplest form.

People absorb a logo in these steps:

1. Shape

First the SHAPE. The shape should be simple. If you’ve ever taken a yellow pages ad, or put an ad in a school newsletter or in the paper, you often get smearing, so it should reproduce well the size of a 5 cent piece.\

2. Colour

Then the COLOUR – colour is very important. 60% of people’s decision to use a new product or service is based on its colour. If you use a multicoloured logo – keep in mind that an offset printer needs to make a separate plate for each colour so it’ll cost more than a one or two colour logo.

3. Text

Then any positioning word or text.

That’s the order of perception. But first things first. There’s a lot more work to be done on your brand before we can start looking at your logo.

BRAND ESSENCE

Finally, the brand essence is the ‘soul’ of your brand. It’s the single, pithy description that sums up what you and your business stands for. It goes in the centre of the prism. It may be related to values, lifestyle, heart, or mind.

Examples of the Brand Identity Prism

To get a grasp of how simple and how powerful this brand identity prism can be, let’s consider a few examples you should be familiar with. Some of these are courtesy of Jean-Noel Kapferer and David Aaker, and some have been ‘imagineered’ by us to help elucidate the concepts.

Ralph Lauren, POLO

Visualised from notes by Kapferer (2004).

Ralph Lauren POLO brand identity prism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Express

This example is the result of various sources including CEO Kenneth Chenault.

 

Americxan Express brand identity prism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Inc.

Of course, no article on branding would be complete without the obligatory inclusion of Apple, the world’s most valuable brand (valued at $154 billion according to Forbes is 2016), so here it is:

apple brand identity prism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

Try this tool yourself. You could download the blank at the top of this article,

Remember:

  • Only three words or phrases for each facet
  • Don’t repeat any.

 

What is a Brand?

“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” Walter Landor

Your brand is not your logo. This is only the physical aspect – the identifier. In communication theory, it is the “signifier”. It works to signal a set of meanings, promised experiences, expertise, knowledge, creativity or whatever your business stands for.

Each of these things are what is “signified” by the logo. The power of a brand is only released in the mind of the consumer.

The Power of a Strong Brand

Imagine I give you a bar of soap.

It is an ordinary-looking cake of white soap, like hundred of others you have seen.

You smell it. It smells like… soap.

Now think about the soap for a second. What words come to mind?

Maybe the words you thought of were ‘clean’. Fresh. Pure. Hygiene.

What if you were to tell you that the soap is Imperial Leather.

Now what comes to mind?

Is it Luxury? Wealth? A Cruise-liner?

What if I told you that it is not Imperial Leather. It is Body Shop soap.

Now what comes to mind?

Ethical. Compassionate. Not tested on animals. Environmental.

That is a brand.

The Brand is the set of perceptions that are unlocked by your name, your symbol, or your signifiers.

The brand exists in the mind of the prospect or customer.

What the brand unlocks are associations including:

  • Personality
  • Higher Order Goals
  • Archetypal stories and mythology
  • Story of struggle, and success
  • Culture
  • How customers see themselves

A strong brand  works to tap into the collective unconscious and release a set of universal, archetypal stories. A brand is a fairy tale. It has a hero and a villain, a struggle against adversity, human spirit, emotion, vigour, and lasting value.

The strong brand can be globally relevant, because it represents aspects of human experience, which we all share, irrespective of the culture in which we were raised.

 

Photo by Jess Watters from Pexels

eBooks and ePublishing Formats

What’s an ebook?

Ebook is a bit of a catch-all phrase. When someone uses the term ‘ebooks’, they could be referring to any of a number of different file formats.

Essentially, an ebook is a file that can be read on an electronic device, like a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, a smartphone, or an e-reader like the Kindle® or Nook®.

Common file types that qualify as an ebook are:

  • ePub
  • PDF
  • Mobi
  • Fixed Layout epub
  • iBook

Each of these file types has a slightly different purpose and various advantages and limitations.

ePub

An epub file is essentially a website that has been packaged. Chapters are documents linked together from one main document or a number of files. A Table of Contents (TOC) helps the device navigate through the sections.

ePub files are widely used, especially for novels and other text-based books. It has something that not all the others formats have — the ability to ‘reflow’.

A reflowable epub file is responsive to the device. An epub file will shape-shift to fit nicely on a screen no matter what the size or resolution.

The user can often change the typeface to an option they prefer and can change type size to reduce or enlarge.

 

Limitations of epub

You cannot have bleed (graphics or colour that runs over the page). That’s because when you are working with a reflowable electronic document, there is no page. The page is the user’s screen which may be small or very large.

Complex layouts will create headaches as everything is pushed into one column.

No shapes are supported. You can get around this by converting the shape to a jpeg, which it will support.

Master page items are ignored, as are overlays, tabs, returns, and indents unless they are assigned as Styles.

It is crucial to apply styles both Paragraph and Character styles for your epub files. The styles are important for how the publication will flow. If you ignore styles and set the type with Bold, italics, indents and so on wherever you feel, it will force the ePub to include CSS code for all these ‘overrides’. This will ultimately create a bloated file.  Styles will keep it lean and clean.

You also need to apply a Table of Contents Style.

You cannot currently convert a Microsoft Word doc to ePub. You need a program like InDesign to create it. Mac’s Pages software can also create an epub file.

Mobi

This is the dedicated format for Amazon and the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

Amazon will convert your epub file to a .mobi when you upload it to KDP.

Fixed Layout ePub

This format is good when you want a more magazine-style look, or kids book, such as when you have a lot of graphics or your layout is more complex than straight text.

The Fixed layout ePub can be created to deliver something to your reader that looks much like the layout you have generated in your source program. If the position of images and text is important, it could be better to sacrifice reflowable text functionality and go for the fixed layout as you can better guarantee the user experience.

Having said that, because it isn’t reflowable, it could be harder to read if the user is on a small screen, as they have to manually zoom in.

PDF

Most people know PDF. It is everywhere and even Internet browsers often have their own PDF reading software. The problem is that not all PDFs are created equally. They are not reflowable and you cannot upload a PDF to sell to Amazon, Google, Apple or most ebook retailers. PDF is fantastic for a lot of things but e-publishing is not one of them.

iBooks

This is Apple’s own proprietary epub format. The Apple iBooks application only sells .ibook.

By uploading an epub file to iBooks Author, the iBooks Author application will convert to a .ibook file for sale and distribution from there. The bad news is that it isn’t used anywhere except by Apple iBooks, and it can’t be used on your own website.

The .ibook file is reflowable when the device is held in landscape mode. When held in portrait, it becomes fixed layout epub.

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That’s a  snapshot of a few of the various e-publishing file formats.

History and Styles of Graphic Design

Egyptian temples were filled with graphic art. Medieval navigation maps were full of symbols and imagery.

Graphic design is not a new concept. The term itself may have been first coined in 1922, but graphic design has existed since the earliest cave art.

The Middle Ages and the Renaissance saw the heavy use of heraldry–the armour, family, class, rank and pedigree. Cattle branding was used to show ownership and quality. Continue reading

Making your documents accessible

Can you imagine going through a family photo album and all you could see is squares of blank paper where the pictures should be?

On every piece of paper there is one word: Image.

That’s what the experience is like for someone using assistive technology if you don’t make sure your documents are accessible.

What is Accessibility?

Around 20 percent of people at any time have a disability or impairment. When it comes to reading documents online, in many cases, this can be aided or overcome by using what is known as assistive technology.

For example, anyone could have a need for assistance because of visual impairment or blindness, a physical impairment, neurological (tremor), and so on.

An accessible document means that the document can be accessed by everyone. It is an equity issue.

Why is accessibility important?

The Australian Human Rights Commission expects websites to be accessible.

In the United States, section 508 is a federal law mandating “that all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained, or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.” It’s an equity issue.

Around the world, it is not just governments that require accessibility standards, many larger corporations understand the importance and value as well. In Australia, the Australian Government also has similar mandatories. https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

There is a precedent in Australia that a company can be sued for not providing an accessible website if they have been notified that the site is inaccessible and they have failed to modify it.

Whether you are part of a government or not, the best practice is to make any publicly available document on a website accessible.

What is Assistive Technology?

When it comes to online reading, there are loads of types of assistive technology. Possibly the most common is JAWS. Here is a demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faZZaDaghBw

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assistive_technology

How to make Word and Adobe InDesign documents accessible

Many software programs now have accessibility checkers. You can use this to see whether there are any issues with an existing document.

If you are starting from scratch, here is a good summary of how to get the document to comply.  While it is possible to remediate files in Adobe Acrobat Pro if the end state will be a PDF, it is much easier and far preferable to get them accessible in the source document in the first place.

This is not an exhaustive article, there are many things to consider. However, this is how to make accessible Word and InDesign documents in a nutshell.

When I am designing or remediating documents to make them accessible, I use an acronym to help me remember each step. MATLOC  (there was a TV show with this name when I was a kid).

MATLOC

MATLOC stands for :

  • Metadata
  • Alt Text
  • Tagging
  • Language
  • Order (the reading order)
  • Contrast

Let’s start with Metadata.

Metadata

Essentially, the document’s metadata is the information embedded into a text-based file that explains what it is and who wrote it. It is good practice to add this information to your documents if they will be publicly available.

  • Title (a clear, descriptive name for the document)
  • Author
  • Subject
  • Description: a full sentence that clearly explains the content. This is not promotional copy; the main point is that it is succinct and accurate.
  • Keywords (separate them with commas)

This will aid in online search as well as enabling a screen reader or other device to describe the content of the document.

Where do I add metadata?

To do this in Adobe InDesign, go to File > File Info

In Microsoft Word, go to File > Properties

For InDesign, I recommend this helpful article by David Blatner  all about metadata in InDesign.

In this same area is also where you can set the Language, so we’ll jump to the L.

Language

In InDesign, this can be found under the Advanced tab.

Make sure you choose whichever language in which the document is composed. In my case, it’s British English / English (UK).

If you are n InDesign and you are exporting a PDF [either for Print or Interactive], you can go to Export > choose PDF. Under the Advanced Tab, you can choose the Default language for the file.

Alternative Text (ALT TEXT)

Handa MatsuriThis is text that is served as an alternative for a reader who cannot ‘see’ the picture.

For example, I have a photo of Hand Matsuri, the Japanese festival that occurs every five years in many towns and villages. The ALT TEXT I would enter could be: ‘a photo of matsuri’ In the description field, I might say: ‘ crowds at Handa Matsui, Aichiken, in 2003.

Some people make the mistake of leaving their images blank and a screen reader might just default to the word ‘image’.

Where do I add Alt text?

In Microsoft Word, right click on the image. Select ‘Format Picture’. Choose the Layout and Properties button.

You have two fields to fill in: Title and Description (as pictured below). Using the alt text title as the basis, a user of assistive technology can choose whether they want to see th3 full description and get more information. The description, in other words, should have a bit more detailed information, but still be succinct.

In Adobe InDesign, the alt text space is found under Object menu. So the path is Object >  Object Export Options, then select Alt Text.

From here you can select another XMP source if you have one set up, or otherwise, choose Custom. Enter the description into the box.

 

Tagging

 You will be familiar with tags like <p> paragraph and <h1> for main headings and <h2> for Handa Matsurisecondary headings and so forth.

This is how we can tell an assistive device the order of our information. The key thing to keep in mind is that it is all about good document formatting, using Styles and tags.

For example, in Microsoft Word, we use Styles for body copy, headings, bullet points and numbered lists. Styles are the hooks for tags.

It is the same for InDesign. Don’t just use the Control Panel, create a Style for the different pieces of content, and apply that Style. Avoid overrides. Use both Paragraph Styles and Character Styles when you need them.

If you need to make a space between lines, for example, make a paragraph style for the spacing and apply it, don’t just hot the ENTER key.

The easiest way I find is to create the look you want with the right leading and type size, and then create the Style for that.

Other things to include are <header> tags for table headings and a Style for lists.

Order

The reading order of a document in English is generally left to right, from top to bottom. In Japan, reading order is right to left.

If you have an infographic or a table that you think is obvious for someone looking at it, think about how it will be served using assistive technology.

The key is to make things as simple and logical as possible. It is beyond the scope of this article to describe how to move content blocks in Acrobat to show reading order, but this can be done if you are working with very complex tables of information. In most instances, avoid tables if you can.

You can use the Touch Up Reading Order tool in Acrobat Pro to fix reading order and basic tagging problems. https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/touch-reading-order-tool-pdfs.html

Contrast

This is the clarity of colours used in your document. The clearest is Black on a white background, so you are generally okay if this is your black-and-white document.

Be aware of pastel colours in type. Go for strong contrast, rather than shades and be wary of coloured type unless it is very clear.

Contrast is something that needs to be manually checked, and there is a website that will help you check your colour values and offer alternatives if they don’t comply. WebAIM.org http://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/

Exporting to PDF

If you are designing a document in Microsoft Word or Indesign and plan to make a PDF (either for print or interactive), make sure you check the boxes to:

  • Create Tagged PDF
  • Bookmarks
  • Hyperlinks

Now let’s go back to that photo album. You’ve made sure the document is accessible. I am opening the album to page one. My Text-to-voice reader tells me that this section is called Seaside Holiday. The blank square of paper says Photo of Joey and Bobbi at the beach making a sandcastle. I can see it in my mind.

To summarise, accessible design of documents is about design fundamentals—clarity and simplicity. Making documents accessible feels good.

Use the built-in software features that assist good layout. That means:

Be disciplined with Styles; describe with text anything that is visual; add metadata; and clear contrast.

These things, and MATLOC to remember them, will help you create well-crafted accessible documents for everyone to enjoy—even that 20 percent who may have a permanent, or temporary, need for assistive technology.

Sublime royalty-free music for your videos

Everyone knows video is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your audience/customer base.

But one of the frustrations is music.

A video can be made so much more effective with some ambient music. But unless you compose your own, or purchase some from an audio site, how can you get the right sound fast?

The answer is:

YouTube Audio Library

This amazing collection from YouTube solves your copyright issues. You simply download the mp4. You need to check the user permissions. Generally, it is okay for YouTube videos and other social media.

Use the audio clip as a layer in your video file. I use Adobe Premier Pro and Apple iMovie most of the time and it’s easy in both. (You generally drag the audio.mp4 to the space below the motion clip.)

If you subscribe to the Audio Library channel, you can get hold of a new piece every day.

Thank you, YouTube!

Audio Jungle

Other places you can pay (a few dollars, not much) for some great quality audio in .wav and .mp4 formats are the awesome Melbourne guys at Envato and their subsidiary website audiojungle for some royalty-free music and audio.

Soundcloud

Soundcloud is an online audio distribution platform. The quality of the sounds here is amazing. You can make an amateurish piece of footage (like most of the stuff I produce for myself) come across as something a bit more special.

ContiMusic

If you would like something totally unique and custom compositions for you, I would definitely suggest having a look at the ContiMusic website.

Created by husband and wife, Tom and Chris, this is exceptional music that is suitable for many kinds of uses. You can purchase a membership subscription or pay a small amount to purchase it royalty-free and access superior sounds. Think Yann Tierson (‘Amelie’ composer) and Philip Glass. (Please note: This recommendation may sound like an affiliate rant, but it’s not. I have no affiliation and receive no payment from Conti Music, I just like their stuff.)

(Please note: These recommendations may sound like the usual rants of an affiliate, they are not. I have no affiliation and receive no payment from Conti Music, I just like their stuff.)

How to Get Huge Publicity on a Shoestring

 

Ican honestly say, the person I have learnt the most from in the real world of public relations and publicity has been Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound. I say this having spent years studying and practising my profession. I did a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Media; a Diploma in Journalism and a Masters Degree in Marketing. Stewart is the real deal. Her advice doesn’t contradict any of my formal training and she doesn’t blur boundaries of integrity.

Joan Stewart is a veteran newspaper journalist and editor who has mentored thousands of small business owners, marketers, publicists, authors, nonprofits, speakers, and PR people to succeed in the online environment.

I’ve been a devout follower since I was introduced to her website at a copywriting course in 2007. In those years, I have bought many of her information products and they have been tremendously helpful for myself and the organisations that I have worked for.

Joan Stewart is way ahead of the trend curve, and a lot of her information she has given away for free. There is a free email subscription link on her website. You will get great information from every one of her email newsletters.

Those who are budget-strapped can get thousands of dollars in free publicity with simple tricks from Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound. Even if you have a staff of one, Joan’s products will show you how to make your news releases, media kits, articles and news releases do double and triple duty. She’ll show you how to identify story ideas within your nonprofit that the media will be tripping over themselves to cover. This is the best website I’ve ever seen on publicity for nonprofits or for anyone with a restrictive budget.

I am a proud affiliate of Joan Stewart, and owe much of my knowledge to her excellent tutelage over the past ten years. We have never met but I consider her a friend, of sorts.

Thanks Joan. Looking forward to many more fine products.

Why WordPress is King

A few months ago I was managing nine websites for a company, all built in Joomla. So I did an extended course in Joomla over a few weekends. You know what I learned from the Joomla expert instructor? To use WordPress!

Yes, I use WordPress!

I am delighted to tell you that it is WordPress that I use for this and now all other websites I create.
Continue reading

Why I Dig Canva (and So Will You)

I cringed at first. I thought it was a gimmicky website that would replace elegant design work with awful DIY wallpaper and slowly wrest demand away from quality graphic designers. I wasn’t keen. So I ignored it.

To be honest, it didn’t really grab my attention until veterans like Joan Stewart and Guy Kawasaki start promoting it. When those two get onto something, I listen. I tried it out. I liked it.

Now I really dig Canva. Why?

Canva screenshotDig, you say? Now you dig it?

Yes. I can dig it. This is why. Not just because it’s from my nabe – Surry Hills (Sydney).

With Canva, you jump right in and – without any design headaches – you can drag and drop text, images, backgrounds, shapes, and all sorts of great features.

With templates for Twitter, Facebook covers, Facebook post updates, posters, presentations, postcards, flyers, business cards, book and ebook covers, and print and web resolutions, you’re all set to create unique and eye-catching graphics to show off your posts.

Things I dig about Canva

Affordable Stock

My  once-beloved iStockphoto I have been using since 2004. I started as a contributing photographer, as well as a purchaser for the myriad campaigns I needed to pull together every year. I used to be able to afford the credits and the range of prices was reasonable for my employer’s wallet. Fast forward and I am sorely disappointed that, with Getty, the most basic package is now $36 AU for just 3 credits. Yes, the Getty quality if great, but c’mon.

This is where Canva steps up. It has over 1,000,000 images and the quality is… well… it’s okay. You can usually get what you’re after.

And most times the image is only $1. That’s what I like – transparent, easy to remember. A credit package is ten bucks and that kept me going for some time. Ten bucks is not much to outlay and you can get ten images out if it.

Infoginfographic elements in canvaraphic Elements

Putting together graphs, pie charts, schematics and the like, well it’s expected these days. But it’s time consuming. Canva can help, even just with some ideas. The range has been helpful to me in planning my graphics for magazines, publications and reports.

They are crude and a little rudimentary, but it’s a good place to dig about and see what you can get.

There’s also plenty of free elements in there, like maps of countries and pencil clip art, that kind of thing.

Tyepfaces

I adore typography and Canvas has a large selection of modern fonts to play with. There is also a ‘Design’ school tutorial section which shows people the basics of pairing fonts, developing colour palettes, and that kind of thing.

Original Creations

I dig Canva because it helps bloggers, web users, everyone who has any website material or social media accounts to maintain to do so without breaching copyright.

Believe me there are people so blissfully ignorant of copyright, you’d fall off your chair.

You can use Canva as an option for people who are in the habit of taking images off Google images oblivious to the fact that, just because you can right click > save something, doesn’t give you the license to do it.

It’s nice to have that clarity and creativity.

Integrity costs you nothing. Well, with Canva it costs very little anyway.

Do you use Canva? What do you think?

 

The Power of Interactive PDF

One of the best things about Adobe InDesign is the ability to save your files as Interactive PDFs.

Imagine designing an online brochure with a photo for each of your products. When someone clicks a product image, it turns into a video showing off the cool features.

If they have a question? They can fill in an enquiry form.

What’s an Interactive PDF?

This is no bog standard portable document format (PDF) file. You can add active hyperlinks, for example, and fillable forms. You can design a Submit button and have the data in that form sent to an email address. You can also add bookmarks and movies. Sometimes.

Some people ask why not just have a website. The answer is that an interactive PDF can be more like a magazine, does not require an active internet connection, and can be emailed or supplied on a branded USB stick.

What can you do with it?

The sky is the limit with what you could do with an interactive PDF. Here are a few ideas.

  • Make an Annual Report for your company. Leave out the financial tables and use the general company info for your organisation all year round.
  • Make a Product Catalogue to Email to prospective customers/clients.
  • Make a membership brochure with a fillable application form. You can also link to a payment gateway like Paypal if you want.
  • Show off a Portfolio of your work and have an enquiry form.
  • Create a Conference booklet that includes a Gallery of Abstract Posters with links to findings, research presentations, and links to related sessions during the event.

Current Challenges with Interactive PDF

One of the challenges around interactive PDFs is the lack of consistency between PDF viewers over the internet.

As Bob Levine says, “Most users think that a PDF is a PDF is a PDF. This is simply not true.” In that sense, PDF is a victim of its own success by the fact that it is now everywhere.

The PDF file was created by Adobe, as well as InDesign and Acrobat, and interactive PDFs are best viewed using Adobe software–whether that is the free Adobe Reader of a sufficiently up-to-date standard (although it doesn’t need to be the latest. Version 7 is fine), or the paid Acrobat Pro or Acrobat DC.

Some browsers have developed their own in-browser PDF viewing capability (Chrome and Firefox), but unfortunately, these don’t support all of the interactive features of the PDF. It’s a real pain and I wish they would get their software in order as Adobe should have the first and last word on what is a universal standard of PDF.

If there are still issues with the user experience of interactive PDF, why not just create an App?

Well, sure. But an App is often well beyond of many.

How do you get around the issues?

If a link is to be sent by email or embedded in a web page, it is best to mention that the PDF is interactive and best viewed in Adobe Acrobat or the free Adobe Reader (e.g. version 7 or later).

If the document is extremely complex, I would suggest considering an alternative such as Fixed Layout ePub. This will create a magazine-style experience with navigation buttons and hyperlinks.

How does it look in ISSUU?

Issuu is a fantastic platform for online magazines I’ve been using for nearly a decade. I tested an interactive PDF in issuu and the results were better than I expected. The hyperlinks worked, including my link over to Paypal, and so did the fillable form. The video, however, didn’t play. No surprises there. Video seems to be the main bugbear when it comes to compatibility.

Want Help?

If you are interested in turning an existing document into an interactive PDF, or Fixed Layout ePub, please get in touch.

contact

 

How to write a more effective media release

The Media Release Formula

Who. What. When. Where. Why and How. I learned it 20 years ago. Still the formula, right? Sure, but you’re probably boring people. There are often better alternatives.

Occasionally I like to use a bold hairy quite right up front for instant drama and impact. Like this:
“More infant wombats with easily curable illnesses will die unless State government immediately starts upgrading facilities at Wandin Valley Animal Hospital,” said Simon Bowen, the Hospital Director yesterday.
With more tech, entrepreneurs everywhere and a sharing economy, a new ‘story-telling’ formula has emerged. I am indebted here to the enduringly helpful Joan Stewart, who credits Ann Wylie for the X, Y, Z, A formula.
“It looks like this: X (users) who have struggled with Y (problem) will now be able to Z (benefit), thanks to A (product or service).”
It reads like this:
Commuters who now spend an hour each day driving from Sunrise Beach to Osage Beach will soon be able to make the trip in 15 minutes, thanks to a new bridge that the ABC Company will build this summer.
The right formula depends on what the release is about and to whom it is being sent. Remember not all reporters report news the same way.
If there is a different angle for a different audience, right a different release.

What NOT to include in a Media Release

There are plenty of people who still think a Media Release is a multipage advertisement for a product or service or announcement.

It’s not.

A Media Release is closer to an Article.  At least, it should have an angle of interest to a publication that will serve their readership.

Try to help journalists meet their difficult deadlines by providing ready copy (text) they can lift straight out.

That includes strong quotes, with clear and accurate attribution, and a balance of sources.

Don’t use adjectives. The media release is completely impersonal. More often than not, it should have a ‘newsy’ objective feel.

You are not launching a much-needed fantastic or exciting event. You are launching an event. Include your adjectives if you have to) in a direct quote from a person.

A new XYZ event will open on DATE to coincide with ABC. “This is an exciting and much-needed event,” said XXX from YYY. “It’s fantastic the level of support we’ve had.”

Don’t bury the lead. Get to the point immediately. Use the ‘pyramid. The most important information should be right up front. Editors and journalists will edit for space by cutting from the bottom up.

Don’t harass writers and editors by sending a teaser email and then asking them to contact you. They’re busy. Send them your info in the body of an email. Give them whatever they need to run a piece. If there are pictures available, let them know. Avoid sending attachments as they may not get opened due to antivirus protocols in many media organisations.

Hope that helps. If you have any further pointers, please feel free to share them here.

How to Innovate If You’re a Service Business

 

Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, recently announced a new $1.1 billion investment to foster the country’s business-based research, development and innovation.

And well might he should, because Australia has a real innovation problem.

We are ranked 17th in the world on the Global Innovation Index.

A recent CPA survey of 3,000 small businesses across Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, China and New Zealand found that 93% of Asian small businesses used social media. In Australia, only half do.

Forty percent of Australian businesses do online sales. Across Asia, it is 83%. Only 5% of Australian businesses plan to release a new product, process or service that’s new in the market in the next year. In Indonesia, it is nearly half of all businesses.

Where’s the Innovation Fund Money Going?

The billion dollars is going into many areas, such as cybersecurity, and tax exemptions for both ‘angel investors’ and Mum and Dad investors in STEM startups (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

Bankruptcy laws will be relaxed to reduce the default period from three years down to one. This way startups can fail fast, learn, get moving again.

I wish I were at school again because there’s money for students in years 5 and 7 will study coding, computer languages and machine thinking.

Eighty percent of Australia’s GDP comes from services.  How do you innovate if you’re a service?

Here are three ideas.

1. How can you Add Convenience?

Selling something on eBay? It’s always a bugbear working out size, height, depth, weight. Or you can just say ‘Pick-up Only’ and miss a lot of the best customers.

The rise of eBay saw Pack n Send services. They make it convenient to buy and sell online.

How can you add convenience to your customer?

2. What Service Extensions can you Provide?

There’s a mechanical workshop in Mittagong NSW that not only performs thorough, reasonably-priced car servicing, they wash, vacuum the car afterwards.

Big deal, you may say, but plenty of their customers come to get a service when they just want their car washed!

If you’re an Internet ISP, why not offer free domain name with each hosting plan. Domains cost only a few dollars and it’s a loss-leader that could be a real point of difference, especially for a novice market.

3. Productise your Service

Can you write an instruction book based on your experience?

Load it on your website as a free download, or sell it, to show your authority.

Create instruction videos for clients. Show off the website instructions. Demonstrate the stretching techniques so your personal training clients don’t forget.

There are lots of ways you can innovate when you’re a service. Many companion services and partnerships you can formulate to add value (and price) to your services.

Branding Nonprofits – Case Study of ‘The Salvos’

Featured

Nonprofits face many difficulties when branding. Some of these are unique as the value proposition for a nonprofit is unique to that sector. It is a social exchange with an intangible, higher-order reward as its value proposition. The key issues are values and vision, trust and transparency, organisational culture and structure. Continue reading

Ten Practical Neuromarketing Insights You Can Use Right Now

In 1999, researchers did a simple wine purchase experiment inside a supermarket.

Music

Near a display of French wines and German wines, the researchers played French music one day, and German music on the alternate days. They did this for two weeks. Guess what happened?

You’re right! On the days French music was played, the store sold three times more French wine than German. On the days German music was played, the store sold three times more German wine.

No surprises there, I guess. Except that—

They also asked every shopper who bought a bottle of French or German wine this survey question:

“What factors influenced you to buy the French / German wine?”

Only one person in 44 chose the music as having any effect!

The study just goes to show two things.

Key Learning 1: Obviously, music can influence purchase decisions and mood, so you should start using it in your servicescape. I don’t mean tune the room into commercial radio or some garbage, be selective and set the tone. Good music can vivify and enhance purchase spend, but bad music can make you feel angry or annoyed. In fact, every time Fleetwood Mac comes on the radio station of my local Vinnies, it’s time to leave. Likewise, my favourite cafe at the moment (Esca in Glebe Point Rd) often plays St Germain in the mornings when I grab my takeaway soy flat white. It’s music I play at home and it makes me feel relaxed and happy. Want a cookie with that? Sure.

Key Learning 2: There is a big difference between people’s behaviour and their understanding of that behaviour. From this, we can even postulate that asking people questions, even in depth interviews, will give you flawed data every time. There is a whole world that exists in the brain that is below our awareness levels. Talking about why we do things just doesn’t cut it. People cannot tell you what they think. Not that they don’t want to, they can’t. So with that in mind, if you think something could work, try it. Forget asking customers. Just introduce it and judge from the results.

Happy Faces

Although subliminal advertising is not legal in Australia, research has shown that flashes of happy faces can generate up to triple the price for a mystery drink. The real-world self-service vending machine study also showed that people changed their consumption behaviour after the happy flashes (drinking more). Those who saw the unhappy faces, even though they could not consciously detect them, drank less.

Key Learning 3: Positive, genuinely happy staff is gold dust. Happy staff equals happy customers equals higher profits.

Key Learning 4: Both the music study and the subliminal faces study both go to show that a positive environment and positive feelings, no matter how small, have an impact on consumers sense of value. Want to be perceived as offering more value? Be more positive. Smile and set a happy scene.

Eye Tracking

Although big businesses spend big money on eye tracking, we can learn from their research.

Eye movements are a reliable indicator of attention. If you have the budget, it’s a useful measure for things like:

  • advertising design
  • web design
  • store design
  • packaging design

Some companies seek permission to get into your webcam so they can track your eyes on a beta website, for example.

Observe Closely

Key Learning 5: Watch people. Watch what they look at. Observe. Did you notice that customers often find trouble locating the pasta sauce? Move it. You can quite easily and inexpensively do observational research to see if your store design is working well, or simply use (and watch) people testing your website or looking at mockups of different window, poster, or newspaper ad designs. Do your A/B split tests.

Logo Positions

By the way, eye tracking reveals that if a logo is used on the bottom of the ad, many people won’t see it. You may want to watermark it right through the centre instead, or incorporate the branding more creatively within the body of the ad. If there’s a big Helena Christensen flashing cleavage in the centre of the ad, people will remember the model, but they won’t necessarily connect her with the brand name at the bottom right hand corner. Same can be said for calls to action. Why do they have to be at the bottom?

Use Faces

Key Learning 6: The most compelling thing a human being can look at is the face of another human being. Especially the eyes. Both genders will also look at things like cleavage, however. People are curious. Use people in your marketing material wherever you can. Faces capture attention.

Arousal Methods

When people are emotionally aroused (in whatever capacity), changes in the sympathetic nervous system are automatic.

This can include pupil dilation, increased heart rate, breath, sweat glands.

The emotional arousal is primitive. We are either attracted or want to withdraw from the stimulus.

Physiological tests of pupils, sweat glands, heart rate, and breathing can indicate arousal, but can’t indicate whether the arousal is positive or negative.

Key Learning 7: A simple skin conductor test on the palm of a hand can reveal any arousal to a stimulus such as a picture of a food product, or an advertisement, but it won’t tell you if they like it or not. So is that information in itself something you can act on? All marketing research needs to yield information upon which you can base a decision. In my opinion, physiological tests of heart, pupils, sweat, and breath are unlikely to be of benefit most of the time.

Facial Recognition

There is software that detects whether a person, even with a somewhat neutral expression, is happy or sad.

Companies have used this in doing user experience (UX) tests for websites.

Key Learning 8: What the face reveals can be accurately decoded by software, but it can also be understood by any curious and perceptive human being. Look at the expressions on their faces. Sure you can video record your store, but why would you. Plus, it’s a privacy thing. Just get in there and mingle. Try looking at clients and customers when you are explaining that technical process or the different packages you offer.  Do they fade away in boredom at certain points? Do there eyes go into deep focus? Do they look scared when you start talking fees and charges and scales of member benefits? Do they outright tell you they didn’t understand? Dumb it down then, folks. If you can’t explain something in simple terms, then you don’t understand it well enough.Or, if your customers don’t understand it easily, it’s too complicated.

Confusion is death. It’s a copywriting mantra, but same goes for a web design. If the user can’t get to what they’re seeking quickly, they will usually leave your website within a matter of seconds. Forever.

Do your customers look happy? Do they express delight? If you have a physical presence, there are so many ways you can setup people to have a positive emotion. Christmas tree with donated presents? A train set? Mood lighting? Classic TV programming? Scent? Comfortable chairs?

Online – increase the size of your web font. Make it easy to read, not gimmicky. Follow my mantra; if in doubt, Open Sans. Make buttons bigger and colourful. Make a change and watch your customers faces before and after. You might want to check out the Designing Servicescapes article for good ideas.

Brain Signals

The marketing concept of value lives in the brain. When people make decisions, brand memories serve as neural connections. Strong connections are better for the brand. An unknown brand will have few memories and be able to generate only the weakest neural connections.

Based on brand memories, value signals will be sent to the front of the brain where decisions are made. The strongest value signal wins.

Electroencephalography (EEG) scans have been able to reveal a more accurate price point for university students’ on-campus cups of latte macchiato than questionnaire results found.

Key Learning 9: If you can’t afford EEG to set a price point for maximum demand and profitability, consider using a real world test of different price points and look at the elasticity of your demand. Then use regression techniques with Excel or similar software to make forecasts.

A study that used functional magnetic resonance imaging machine (fMRI) has revealed that the brain activity processing value signals can often be different to what a person says, even when they aren’t lying. Brain chemistry doesn’t lie. Read about this classic neuromarketing experiment that used MRI and the startling power of brand effects.

Key Learning 10: The cultural power of a strong brand is not contested. Brands insinuate into the nervous system. Cultural information and memories impact our perceived value and our decision-making. Only the ignorant would say that a brand has no value because it’s intangible.

So the last key learning is this: make good memories. It doesn’t matter what your budget is, provide clear branding images that are consistent with style, typeface and colour schemes. Good brands tell a good story. They create good experiences. It’s all pretty common sense, I guess. But common sense is not common practice. Make every customer experience a good new memory and you’re on your way to building some good cultural capital. If it’s an emotional experience, like the arts can deliver, that memory may just may serve you well in someone’s decision-making process twenty years from now.

Sources:

Phil Harris, “Neuromarketing” Presentation at Australian Marketing Institute, Sydney, April 2014. Check out Nurobrand’s website if you are looking to introduce neuromarketing metrics into your organistion.
North, Adrian C.; Hargreaves, David J.; McKendrick, Jennifer “The influence of in-store music on wine selections.”Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 84(2), Apr 1999, 271-276
Neuropricing http://www.neuromarketing-labs.com/services/neuropricing/the-latte-macchiato-experiment/

May 26, 2005Face Value: Hidden Smiles Influence Consumption And Judgment: Psychology Studies Confirm Unfelt Emotion Can Alter Consequential Behavior”

 

 

 

How to Add Value to your E-Business

If marketing is the interface between an organization and the marketplace, the value exchange is the driver of business.

‘Value’. You hear it time and again. Value proposition, value creation, adding value…let me take a moment to just repeat a key point–

Value exchange is the driver of business.

Value can be roughly defined as the advantage that a buyer (or user if there is no transaction) perceives that they gain from you. This could be the perception of worth that a user feels they get from your product (or service or information) minus the price and effort.

In order to create, communicate and deliver value to customers, we need to locate where value can be added or unlocked all the way along the supply chain to the customer and then into after-sales support and customer service.

In this sense, Marketing Departments are, and should be, disappearing because marketing is located in each of its parts: logistics, inputs, business development, operations, communications and customer service, and is the sum of the whole.

Regis McKenna famously wrote that “Marketing is everything and everything is marketing.”

Understand what ‘Value’ means to your customers

In order to deliver value, we must first understand what Value means to your customers. It may not be the price alone. Other factors to research when developing a Customer Persona could include:

  • time
  • ease
  • convenience
  • speed
  • access
  • customization
  • physical contact with a person
  • sense of trust and security

In fact, looking at this list, where do the four Ps of marketing fit? What happened to Product, Price, Place and Promotion? Is this redundant now?

Not really. We just have a broader variety of things to think about.

Products

Products can include information, or a service, anything we can provide in exchange for something of value to us (money, information, an audience).

Pricing

Pricing now far more flexible and complicated than in years past. Products and services may be free (Dropbox, Gmail), or scaled in some way(personal, professional, enterprise), or even time-based (variable pricing for booking of tickets due to demand).

Placement / Distribution

Considerations for E-Business are much broader now. Do we have one central fulfillment centre or a network of regional centres?

Promotion

It is far less acceptable to consumers to be bombarded with email marketing than it is to deluge them with television commercials. This is in part because the media are different. Television is a passive medium, the Internet is an active one. The emphasis is on ‘inbound marketing’ rather than outbound.

Authors Kalyanam and McIntyre believe that a better formula consists of 11 factors to consider.

11 Ingredients to Add a Unique Recipe Value

Product – in all of their guises mentioned above including information, music, audio, eBooks, services, and so on.

Placement- consider affiliates, other supply chain partners

Pricing – free, tiered, subscriber model, micro-payments

Promotion – online ads, sponsor links, email, public relations

Personalisation – customization, individualization, collaborative filtering

Privacy – e.g. state your policy and conformity to the relevant SPAM Act.

Customer Service – FAQ, help desks, Email, Chat rooms.

Community – chat rooms, user ratings, reviews

Website – navigation, ease of use and usefulness, user experience (UX), user interface (UI).

Security – SET, SSL

Sales Promotion – e-coupons, offers, bundling.

Do you find this helpful as an E-Marketer or is the 4 or 7Ps just as effective?

 

Sources:

Kalyanam, K & McIntyre, S. (2002) “The e-marketing mix: A contribution to the e-tailing wars”,

Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 487-499.

McKenna, R (1991), “Marketing is Everything,” Harvard Business Review, January, 1991.

 

 

 

Google Ad Grants for Nonprofits and Charities

Thanks to a gentle side of the giant, nonprofit organisations and charities across many countries, including Australia, are able to apply for a Google Grant.

What is a Google Ad Grant?

This is an opportunity to promote the organisation through Google AdWords up to the tune of $10,000 US every month. In reality, it is unlikely that your ads will generate this amount of clicks, but this is the maximum on offer.

The ad links must be Search network only, so you cannot use banners or images; it is Text Ads only, I’m afraid.


All the links from the ads must also go to ONE website and they cannot be commercial in nature. If you have multiple websites, you will need to consider creating a page for each of those websites on your flagship site, and directing traffic to that page. It means an extra click, but it should be worth it. Keep in mind that this does NOT mean it’s okay to have visitors land on a page full of links to other commercial websites. Google will not be happy if you are trying to work against the spirit of its offering. Nor will anyone else who is misled by your phony philanthropy.

How to Apply

Applying is a three-step process and, like many Google products, can be confusing.  I have created hundreds of  Google Ads, but I have to admit that I failed on my first two attempts.

What you need to succeed is:

• to be a registered nonprofit or charity and be able to prove it with a notification that you are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) with Deductible Gift Recipient status.

• have a clear and compelling mission statement (If you don’t, write one.)

• write an essay (300-500 words) describing how the Google Ad Grant would help your organisation

First things first.

Step One: Set up a brand new Google account. You can’t use an existing one and it is preferable to use your organisation’s email address and domain if you can.

Step Two: Set-up an AdWords Account and create at least one ad Campaign and Ad Group. You can create more later, but one campaign with one or two ad groups if fine.

Step Three: Write down (or copy) the customer AdWords ID number that will be on the top right of the screen. You’ll need it soon.

It’s important that you ensure a couple of things are done precisely or you’ll get a rejection notice.

1. Set your country as United States (even if you are in Australia).

You can limit search to Australia only but don’t fiddle with the US.

2. Make sure to select ‘Search only’ and  UNCHECK the pre-ticked box that says ‘include search partners’ underneath this. Critical!

2. Make sure you choose $2.00 as your default bid per click. This is a mandatory. You cannot set Google to choose. You must enter $2 for each click.

3. You must also enter the daily limit maximum of $329. This works out to be $10,000 if it were to be fulfilled. As I said earlier, this is unlikely.

4. When it comes to Billing, DO NOT ENTER a credit card. You have to choose ‘Save and Finish Later’ or ‘Set up Billing later’. If you do enter card details, you might be liable for any ads that start running and you won’t qualify for the grant.

Apply

After you have created your ads, then you make your official application.

Have your ID number ready and your PDF notification of charity status.

Limitations of the Grant

This is a great coup for many nonprofits and has the potential to be a real driver for many if used well. But it does have limitations.

One limitation is that the links do all need to direct traffic to one website. Many organisations have multiple business units, but, fair enough, it’s free.

Secondly, anyone with experience using AdWords knows that $2 per click is not that high. In many cases your keywords will be below first page because the minimum bid will be $2.75 or $3 or more.

Thirdly, very specific keywords often generate such low search volumes that Google won’t bother including them. When you get a low search warning, you need to change it to something less specific and thereby run the risk of being outbid.

The golden zone is harder to reach when you have the $2 limitation, so more keyword phrases may be required than normal.

Lastly, the process seems easy in hindsight but the amount of time I spent trying to get it right was high. It is important that you don’t try to apply for the grant before you have created your ads. It’s also important that you don’t create your ads from an existing AdWords account. Start fresh and follow the order described in this article.

Google also has decent step-by-step procedures for making the application. I would only say ‘decent’ though, I wouldn’t say ‘terrific’ because there a minor bits left out that you need to know. I’ve tried to cover them here.

Good luck!

How to Create A Content Marketing Strategy

‘Content Marketing Strategy’ is a phrase I’m seeing everywhere. Why? Because it represents a shift in collective thinking and marketing planning around social and digital environments.

Essentially, the concept is not new, but the setting is increasingly online. The worldwide web has given birth to concepts such as ‘keyword strategy’, search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM; usually meaning ‘paid search’).

‘Content’ tends to refer to things like blogs, infographics, videos, articles, games, photos, and so on, that are shared from a website through social networks and to email lists. The point is to drive people through the sales funnel and decision-making process towards a conversion of some kind.

Here, I will take a more holistic approach and include offline as well as online communications under the umbrella term ‘content’.

Content is King

Now there’s a phrase that’s been bandied around to near death. But it’s true. Content is king because search engines like Google like fresh content and they like it to be original (no ‘curated’ content scraped from other places). That means you have to produce new material regularly and it should be packed (but not stuffed) with keywords relating to your business or industry.

We usually start with text (as in a blog or article) because this is the opportunity to explain a point using words, which are searchable and indexable by search engine robots, as opposed to images and artwork, which generally are not indexable (except the metadata e.g. alt text for images). A base, say 500-word, blog post or article can and should be repurposed and reinvented into an infographic, a media release, video, photos, etc, in order to communicate the single message in multiple ways.  All of these seemingly random and disparate pieces of creative can be orchestrated into a strategic and effective drive to a pre-determined outcome.

But first things first.

What is a Content Marketing?

Content can be anything that helps you inform, entertain, engage, remind, alleviate confusion, solve a problem, redress myths, educate, and otherwise enhance trust, credibility and salience of your offering in the mind of your target audiences.

It sounds like it applies to consumer goods, but in fact, the same concept also applies to services and nonprofit organisations.

The whole idea of Content Marketing Strategy is simply a different way of formulating an Integrated Marketing Communications plan that addresses each of your target markets (or stakeholders in the case of a charity or nonprofit) and each of their predictable stages of awareness, understanding, interest, trial, post-trial evaluation and loyalty.

If our aim is to get a group up the ladder to loyalty, we need to step them up through awareness, understanding, interest, before we can encourage them to try our offering and entreat their loyalty.

Like any good Integrated Marketing Communications campaign, we need to start with the end in mind. Here is a roadmap for creating a Content Marketing Strategy.

1. What are your Corporate Objectives?

Here you can’t be vague. We are not talking lofty, unmeasurable vision statements. We need clear hard SMART objectives.

Think Dollars. Units. Numbers. Percentages. With Deadlines. Achieve or Fail measurable black and white stuff. What’s the use of having a goal if you don’t know whether or not you’ve achieved it. Keep in mind that we are not only talking about customer and profitability goals but that of the organisation as a whole. I subscribe to the philosophy that your organisation actually has six markets.

Six Markets

In the examples above, you will notice that the corporate objectives related to more than just Customers.

It is useful to keep in mind that an organisation never has just one market, they have around six. There are six important stakeholders that need to be serviced at any time.

This is not exactly the same as the original ‘six markets’ model created by Christopher, Payne and Ballantyne (1991), but I think my version is simpler and easier to use. (Referrers and Influencers get subsumed into Partners and Suppliers).

  • Existing customers
  • New customers
  • Internal (Staff and Boards)
  • Partners & Suppliers
  • Media
  • Government

SMART Objectives

Examples

  • “To sell 1,000 Harley Davidson motorcycles by June 30, 2014.”
  • “To achieve dealer satisfaction of 80% or greater by December 31, 2013.”
  • “To achieve staff satisfaction levels of 90% by 31 December 2013.”
  • “To buy two new parts suppliers for  cost reduction before June 30 2014.”

These objectives Specific, Measurable, Aligned (with the corporate objective), Realistic, Targeted, Time-bound.It looks easy, but it’s not and it’s surprising how many organisations don’t have SMART goals.

Common Mistakes:

“To become an opinion leader in our industry” (How do you know when you’ve become an opinion leader? Instead: “To write one article about the industry for our website every week” (SMART)

I say again, Visions Statements can and should be lofty, emotive and inspiring. Objectives need to be SMART. It’s best not to have too many. Ideally, you won’t have more than five.

That said, Content Marketing Strategy starts with our SMART Goals.

2. Communication Objectives

Next, we need to attach Communication Objectives to each of our Corporate Objectives.

Example:

  • Corporate Objective: “To sell 1,000 Harley Davidson motorcycles to riders aged 22-35 by June 30, 2014.”

In order to reach this goal, we need to accomplish a few things.

  1. We need to create AWARENESS. We need to communicate that the motorcycles exist to our target market.
  2. We need to position the motorcycle brand so that it is INTERESTING to the market. The communications need to appeal and engage the sub-cultural sensibilities and drives of our market and be coded to activate recognition as ‘one of them’. We need to communicate the safety, stylishness, fuel-efficiency, or self-image appeal to our target – whichever is the key discriminating feature for our market.
  3. We need to encourage the market to TRY (e.g. test ride) the motorcycle. We need to communicate where, how and why they will love the experience.
  4. We then need to be given incentives to PURCHASE the motorcycle. We also need to remind them they have made an excellent decision and to enhance LOYALTY.  Ideally, this loyalty will be expressed through REPEAT PURCHASE and RECOMMENDATION.

Each of these communications objectives needs to be expressed in SMART terms.

You can probably think of a number of techniques to achieve these communication objectives. Posters in urban areas? Postcards in selected cool venues? Stylish, counter-cultural imagery? The Harley Davidson Club? The Harley tattoo peeking out from the corporate woman’s chest? Yuck, but you get the picture. These ideas should now be brainstormed.

3. Brainstorm your Strategies

For each of your Communication Objectives, we now need to brainstorm our tactics. We won’t be able to do all of them, we just want to start with a healthy list. Then we select just the ones that will be the most effective and efficient.

Strategies:

1. AWARENESS

  • Facebook Advertising
  • Motorcycle shops
  • Motorcycle mechanics
  • Media Release

2. SELF-IMAGE APPEAL

  • Video
  • Postcards
  • Hot images

3. TEST RIDE

  • Direct Mail offer
  • Advertisement

4. PURCHASE

  • Extended guarantees and warranties
  • Testimonial from users
  • Sales incentive (10% discount)

5. LOYALTY

  • Fuel vouchers
  • Harley Club ‘The Subversives’ Online community forum
  • Free servicing for a year
  • Magazine subscription

4. Selecting Channels and Tools

When we talk about Communications, we are talking about the promotional mix. Remember, that communications can be two-way and many of your tools can be used to get input from your markets and their feedback. Talk to them, not at them. These days, there are so many tools and channels you can use for every element of the promotional mix, many of them online. Choose which tools you think will most effectively and efficiently engage your target audience.This mix consists of ADSPP:

  • Advertising (e.g. Google AdWords, AdRoll, social media ads like Facebook, LinkedIn sponsored Inmail, Twitter Ads, other social network ads, newspaper ads, magazine ads, journal ads)
  • Direct mail (e.g. email, postcards, letters to past customers)
  • Sales promotion (e.g. discounts, incentives and offers)
  • Public Relations (e.g. media releases, articles, blogs, fact sheets, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube)
  • Publicity (e.g. stunts, public contests, fundraising rides, Pinterest, influencer marketing)
  • Personal Selling (e.g. salespeople, field staff, testimonials, peer-to-peer endorsements)

A social network can traverse the gamut of the promotional mix. You just need to marry a network with an objective. For example, creating a YouTube video will create awareness as a quasi-form of advertising, but it also can be a form of publicity.

We may need to be working on concurrent communication objectives. For example, we’ll be monitoring and supporting our Loyals at the same time we groom our prospects into their first Harley purchase.

Mapping out the Schedule

When we have decided our shortlist, we have our strategy that fulfils our communications objectives.

We have used a very simple example. For an Organisation’s Content Marketing Strategy, this would include not just sales but other markets and the communication objectives of each.

If the plan gets overambitious and out-of-control

With six markets and all these different customer segments and different stages of the awareness, understanding and buying cycle, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. A couple of tricks to help you pull it back together are these:

A. You must make trade-offs.

It’s about effectiveness and efficiency, so less is more. You can’t be everything to everyone, so pick your mark. What are the priorities? Every organisation must make decisions and trade-offs. If you’re trying to target three segments and three stages, just focus on one segment and get the recipe right. Or delegate to different segment managers if you have them. If you don’t, consider the benefits of aligning the organisation with its objectives and restructure work roles and teams if necessary.

B. Set up for Self-service

Your website is the font of all corporate knowledge, so pack as much info here as you can. Just make it engaging and easy to find.

For example, the Media market could be satisfied by putting a Media Kit on your website with Staff Profiles and photos, Fact Sheets about services and values, your organisation’s story, a contact list, and an archive of Media Releases. Then, as part of your ongoing communications, you could @directmessage journalists by Twitter with relevant messages and links.

C. Seed the Vanguard

Even though I compressed these in my own Six Markets model, don’t get me wrong. Your ‘Influencers’ and ‘Referral markets’ are key. An analogy is an infantry to the SAS. The infantry is on-the-ground soldiers who seek out the enemy on foot to kill and capture them. The SAS (Commandos) are also on foot, but they will seek to do maximum disastrous impact with the greatest efficiency. Instead of picking off individual soldiers in a firefight, they’ll ambush and blow-up the truck that is providing food, water and munitions to those soldiers.

Your influencers are the early adopters of your technology or the key groups that your market listens to. If you want to convince GPs to do something, convince the right person at the AMA. If you want to sell millions of custom-designed jewellery, get Cate Blanchette to wear some. This way we don’t need to convince one million, just one.

5. Use a Simple Calendar or Template

The last thing we need to do is use a calendar or template to schedule our activities. It should be clear to understand and accessible to everyone. I like to keep a simple Excel spreadsheet that’s colour-coded. Each activity should be delegated to a person or team. Here is a basic example of a SMART Marketing Calendar

Added 25 April 2018: Another excellent article about how to create a documented content marketing strategy is available at NewsCred.

Remember, the basis of most of your content will always be an article, blog or web page, even if it’s in the form of the FAQ. From here we can repurpose that content into multiple items that will inform, interest, appeal to, engage, build trust and entice trial and purchase of our offering.

 

Merry Christmas & Marketing News 2013

christmaselephantThank you to all of our beautiful clients for your interesting projects and fabulous company this year. The last few weeks have been flat-out running social media and PR for the vast number of auctions for Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour. The experience has been amazing – testament to the power of social networks and public relations. If you’re keen to see the basics of how simple text and display ads work, check out the Google AdWords primer below. Yes, Strategic Creative is now MVMM (My Virtual Marketing Manager) with new website www.mvmm.com.au

Google AdWords Basic Training

In terms of effectiveness and efficiency, it’s hard to go past good ol’ Google AdWords. Google prides itself on creating positive and relevant user experiences for those using its powerful search algorithms.To create simple and effective ads that are low cost and measurable is not difficult when you get a handle on what you’re doing and how Google thinks. Read On…

Pantene #Whipit Goes Viral

If you’ve checked your Facebook News Feed in the last few days, you’ve probably seen the Pantene Philippines ad that’s causing a global sensation for its radical departure from conventional shampoo advertising. Here’s my take on why it works (partly) and how you could emulate its strategy. Read On…

Holiday Hours

The virtual office will be closing from 21st December 2013 to 06 January 2014. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season where you can relax and do the things you enjoy the most. See you in 2014.

Best wishes, Dani & the Elves.

 

Google AdWords Basic Training

In terms of effectiveness and efficiency, it’s hard to go past good ol’ Google AdWords.

Google prides itself on creating positive and relevant user experiences for those using its powerful search algorithms.

To create simple and effective ads that are low cost and measurable is not difficult when you get a handle on what you’re doing and how Google thinks.

Getting Started

After you log into your Google Account, you will see the Dashboard.

To create your ads, click Campaigns and then the Green button below +Campaigns.

Here you can choose the type of ad. You can reach the most people by using Search Display network and Display Select the Search Network only (meaning organic search and search partners sites) or the Display Network only.

There are a number of different types of ads you can run. This brief article will look at running simple Text Ads.

Campaign Structure

At the top we have Campaigns and under that Ad Groups and within Ad Groups we have Ads. Each Ad Group consists of one or more Ads that use the same keywords.

For example, if you are running a Summer Campaign for your swimming club, you would choose a New Campaign. You may then have various different ‘themes’ to promote, such as kids swimming lessons, squad activities, seniors swimming, and water polo. Each of these would become a separate Ad Group. Within, for example, the Water Polo Ad Group, we could then have a series of discrete Ads, such as Registration, the swim club’s equipment for sale, and a video on how to play.

We create a New Campaign, and then New +Ad Group and enter our text and keywords. There are character limits if you are running a Text Ad. Be specific. Think about what the user is directly seeking.

Targeting & Budgeting

You can also set your targeting by country and age.

You set a Daily budget and a per bid budget for each keyword. Popular keywords will cost more, but since they are generic, be sure to include very specific keywords relevant to what you do.

Display and Destination URLs
In your ad, you type in a Display URL and a Destination URL. The display shows what the link will look like, the destination is the actual page the click will direct to.

You can use a general website name in your Display URL e.g. www.greenswimclub.com and then the destination page to www.greenswimclub/water-polo/registration/summer

This is to reassure visitors that the link is going to a page on the Display site. If your ad goes to an external or third-party site, the Display needs to accurately represent where the link will go.

You cannot initiate a program or activate anything through the link.

How Bidding Works

Google doesn’t just place the top Ad from the highest bidder. It has refined its algorithms to try and ensure the user is going to have the bed possible user experience. Deeper pockets don’t necessarily provide this. From an advertiser perspective, Google provides you with the lowest price possible to display your ad.

To place your ads and determine the real cost, the equation is:
Maximum Bid x Quality Score = AdRank. The AdRank then determines the position of your ad and the cost.

Having a high Quality Score is really important here.

The Quality Score is mostly made of:
1. your click-through rate CTR)
2. RELEVANCE your ads keywords to your landing page
3. the LANDING page itself

 

How to improve your Quality Score

Here are some best practices:

Too few Ad Groups?
Google likes relevant, tightly knitted themes. It’s about being really specific, not generic. We need to think like a searcher who genuinely wants to find our solution. Do your keyword research. There are many aids within AdWords to suggest keywords, which you can select and deselect. The specificity and relevance will affect CTR.

Is the Landing page relevant to the keywords in your ad?
Your landing pages need to have content that contains keywords you are using, or the visitor is going to feel cheated. The content should be original not identical to other pages, and specific to each ad.

The Landing Page Itself
The page itself must show good navigation. Google ‘bots’ will scour the page to determine that there are means of escape for the visitor and useful, relevant information such as Privacy policies, Terms of Service, links to About and other pages.

Navigability is key. The old squeeze page you so often used to see – the big red IMPACT script headline and no links other than a big BUY at the bottom, well, Google hates these. Google also hates pop-ups or pop-unders and considers the page load speed and will penalise a slow loader. That means making sure your site isn’t hosted too far away. For example, pages on a US server will need to travel to the Pacific Ocean in order to load.

Video Ads

Did you know you can now choose Online Video and link your AdWords account to your YouTube account (which is also owned by Google)? The video option allows you to track engagement and conversion data for your promoted videos.

Playing with Google AdWords is fun and you learn as you go.

Campaign Deconstruction: Pantene Whipit

While checking your Facebook News Feed, you may have come across the Pantene #Whipit ad that has now officially ‘gone viral’.

In case you missed it, here it is again.

 About the Pantene Ad

Filmed as a TV Commercial for the Philippines market, the Pantene ad has caused a global sensation for its radical departure from conventional shampoo advertising.

Taking a leaf from Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, (which has been tremendously successful), Pantene confronts gender bias and sexism in the corporate workplace and encourages women to shine.

#Whipit Campaign Background

The inspiration for the campaign came from an October 2013 study that revealed that women were still experiencing double standards and gender bias “even in progressive Metro Manila” Rappler.com.

The ad features corporate females doing identical tasks (presentations, running meetings, crossing the road, working late at night) and being perceived differently (boss / bossy, dedicated / selfish).

Pantene partnered with active social news website, Rappler (in the Philippines). Rappler’s mission is to generate smart conversations through uncompromising journalism where “stories inspire community engagement and digitally fuelled actions for social change.”

The partnership resulted in a social marketing campaign tagged #Whipit in order to try and:

a) subvert these perceptions (Rappler), and

b) make some money selling product (Pantene).

Pantene with agency BBDO Guerrero Manila took a radical departure from the standard shampoo ad script, which often makes women feel disempowered because no shampoo really creates the preternatural shine (or the fabulous good looks and attractive glances) that the ads suggest.

Instead, BBDO and Pantene have taken an empowerment approach and focused on successful women (with good hair) in corporate situations.

The titles demonstrate the faulty perceptions about females in the workforce compared to men.

It has succeeded creating a relevant, albeit tenuous, link to its haircare products and value proposition of shiny hair. Shiny hair, shine as a person. Get it? [Hmm, sort of]. Quality of the product / inequality of the situation.

The ad ran for a month or two before a mention by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg saw it rocket to worldwide popularity.

“This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen illustrating how when women and men do the same things, they are seen in completely different ways,” Sandberg wrote on her official Facebook page.

There are critics. Some say the theme conflicts with the product itself.

Effectiveness

The results of the campaign are not available yet, as it still ricocheting through cyberspace.

It has generated thousands of tweets and nine million YouTube views.

Personally, I like the ad and for something that has only ever aired in the Philippines, it’s what I would call a ‘good spend’. I think it has generated smart conversations and created popular awareness about the differences in perceptions, including from and by women.

It also makes me think that Pantene really is a smarter product than others and reflects my self-concept, which is pretty critical when marketing things like this. Like jeans for twenty-somethings, it’s not about the denim, it’s about how you see yourself and how you want others to see you. In marketing parlance, we call it the ‘transformational appeal’ and it can be more effective than an ‘informational appeal’ as long as you can make it past the rationality hurdles.

That’s why I also like the ad from a marketing communications perspective, because it does what many brands try and fail to do well, which is successfully enter emotional and higher-order territory and favourably reflect the target market back to themselves.

Entering Emotional Territory

Apple was initially subversive (watch the famous Superbowl ad styled on Orwell’s 1984 here), now it’s creative and inspirational. Nike uses the ‘power of the individual’ (watch). Dove is ‘Real Beauty’ (this is beautiful).

Even though I find some of the quasi-spiritual underpinnings of certain fast moving consumer goods eye-rolling, they can be enormously powerful. Archetypes and storytelling; quests, ideals and journeys are universal and deeply felt.

They work because you can add have more nuts, thicker cream, a cheaper price, an easier payment system, but so can your competitors. There is no real differentiation and therefore no real loyalty. When you own emotional territory, it is very difficult for a competitor to displace this. You’re on a higher plane. You ‘connect’.

As Services businesses, it’s easier for us. There is always a deeper, laddered down benefit of what you do. Always. The hidden, but powerful value proposition may be security. Confidence. Assurance. Romance. Idealism. A means to express individual self-identity.

If you need help laddering down to your higher order benefit, send me an email.

Also what do you think of the Pantene #Whipit ad? Love it or loathe it?

 

 

 

 

Small Business. Super-sized Brand

There are a lot of components that make a brand. In order to make a powerful and durable brand, you have to put in the work. It’s not design work, not initially.

But it boils down to your vision and your understanding of your customer and your knowledge of the market and the other players in your arena.

Let’s start with Vision

So what is vision?

It’s the thing that initially filled you with inspiration to start your business. Continue reading